Sedation for Root Canals and What You Need to Know

Root canals are an important part of protecting your natural teeth when the pulp inside them is damaged or infected. This dental procedure involves removing infected or damaged tissue from inside your tooth to prevent serious complications. 

Although root canals are considered common and safe, those who have dental anxiety might still be nervous about having one done. Sedation for dental procedures, including root canals, can provide an effective way to ease your nerves. Knowing more about dental sedation for root canals can help you understand how helpful this option is if you have dental anxiety.

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation for a root canal involves taking a pill that helps you feel more relaxed. Different types of these anti-anxiety medications are used for oral sedation. At Largo Endodontics, we offer Halcion and Valium as options for oral sedatives. This medication can help you feel calmer and less nervous while having your root canal done. Halcion typically takes between 30 and 90 minutes to take effect. You should follow your endodontist’s instructions on when to take an oral sedative before your appointment.

Halcion has long-lasting effects that usually last for at least two hours. However, this medication’s effects can last as long as eight hours. This timeframe provides plenty of time for a root canal to take place while you’re still feeling the effects of this oral sedative. Halcion is a form of conscious sedation, so it doesn’t put you to sleep. Instead, it makes you feel more at ease, and you might not remember anything from your procedure when it wears off. Since it can take a while for the effects to fully wear off, you should have someone drive you home from your appointment.


Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Nitrous oxide sedation involves inhaling nitrous oxide gas, also known as laughing gas, to ease anxiety during your appointment. This form of sedation works more quickly than oral sedation. Nitrous oxide sedation usually starts to take effect a few minutes after you begin inhaling it. This gas is continually given to you throughout your root canal to help ensure that you stay relaxed.

As you inhale nitrous oxide, you’ll remain awake during your procedure. You’ll be able to communicate with your endodontist. When the flow of nitrous oxide stops, the effects usually wear off within a few minutes. In many cases, no side effects occur or only minimal side effects occur. While Largo Endodontics does not currently offer Nitrous Oxide sedation, this is a common offering for many dentists, oral surgeons, and endodontists.


Discuss Sedation with Your Endodontist

Although safe forms of sedation are available for root canals and other endodontic procedures, keep in mind that not all endodontists offer sedation. In some cases, endodontists might offer dental sedation for certain procedures, but not for others. Since different types of sedation are available, it’s also important to see which kinds your endodontist offers. Some forms of sedation are more suitable for mild or moderate anxiety, while others are more suitable for severe anxiety.

You should discuss dental sedation with your endodontist well before your appointment. While talking about sedation, ask what kinds are offered and go over other factors that might affect which type is best for you, such as your level of anxiety. Your endodontist can help you determine which sedation option is most suitable. You should also discuss any precautions you might need to take before, during, and after sedation. For example, you might ask whether or not you’ll need a ride home from your appointment or how your endodontist will monitor your vital signs if needed.


Tips to Ease Dental Anxiety

If dental sedation is not an option, you can ease your anxiety in other ways. Talking to your endodontist and staff before, during, and after your appointment can help ease your fears about having a root canal done. These professionals can listen to your concerns and provide you with more information on what to expect during your appointment. Visiting the office ahead of time might help if this will be your first time going.

On the day of your appointment, consider bringing headphones with you to listen to soothing music. Being able to hear calming music might help you feel more relaxed during your appointment. Practicing breathing exercises before your appointment and while you’re having your root canal can also help ease your anxiety. These exercises usually involve taking slow, deep breaths and letting them out slowly. Doing this as often as needed can help calm your nervous system and reduce your anxiety.

At Largo Endodontics, we’re committed to providing a comfortable experience for all patients. If you need a root canal and have dental anxiety, please contact us for an appointment. Dr. Ernest Rillman, our endodontist, will be happy to go over dental sedation options with you and provide you with advice on preparing for this procedure.